Deflated Hamilton looking to future
Lewis Hamilton is hoping for a change of luck after suffering his first retirement of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix.
From third on the grid behind an all Red Bull front row spearheaded for a change by Mark Webber, Hamilton enjoyed what he felt was his best start of the season since joining Mercedes.
Deliberately angling his car between Webber and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton was poised to make the gap until his right-rear tyre made the merest of contact with the left edge of Vettel's front wing.
Hamilton sustained an immediate deflation, the puncture sending him to the rear of the pack and on a slow crawl back to the pits for a change of rubber.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, despite returning to the track, it became apparent he had sustained severe damage to the floor of his car, resulting in him retiring after only seven laps.
It means since his win in Hungary and third place in Belgium, Hamilton has scored just 22 points from the last four races, ending his slim, unrealistic hopes of the title going into the race at Suzuka.
"The start was such a good feeling," said Hamilton.
"But I had such a light touch with Sebastian, I didn't even notice it until I got to turn one.
"After that the tyre blew. I tried my best to get the car round, but the tyre disintegrated and destroyed the floor.
"After the pit stop the car was pulling to the right and I had very low downforce so I was struggling and I had to stop.
"It's a real shame because I think a podium could have been possible, and the guys on the team deserve a better result after such a long trip.
"I just feel bad for them because they've worked so hard this whole time we've been away, so it's really disappointing what happened.
"And it's frustrating for me because you prepare, the guys have gone through so many different emotions to get us into the race, and you don't even see the first lap. It's so gutting.
"Luck just has not been on our side lately, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
"We'll now head home, keep working hard and see if we can improve for the next couple of races."
In the fight for second in the constructors' championship, Mercedes have now fallen 10 points behind Ferrari, whilst Lotus are closing in as they trail by 23 points.
Hamilton added: "Looking to the last four races, I will just be going out there to enjoy them and score as many points as I can for the team.
"I still believe second in the constructors' championship is in our reach if our luck takes a turn for the better, and that's what we will all be aiming for."